IMPLEMENTATION HUDDLES; VENDORS REVOLT, STUDENTS COMPLAIN
The Students Union Government in University of Calabar through the Director of Welfare Comr. Aniekeme George has stage its drum to stabilize prices of goods and services in the hostels. To this end, the Director of Welfare has held meeting with all the vendors on campus to brief them on the latest approved prices of goods on campus.
Addressing the vendor, Mr. Dominick Asuquo who is the Task Force Chairman and representative of the school authority talking about food item said that the students leaders meet the Management with proposal that food should be N100 but the Management after deliberation decided it should N150. He said that Management has frown at the prices which goods are sold on campus compared to offcampus citing the instance like selling electric bulbs at N60 on campus when it’s sold at 50 outside. He said that the Management has approved the proposal for price reduction as been released from office of welfare. He added that “We are not here to negotiate; the list have been approve by university authority”.
Addressing the congregation who came out in hundreds, the Welfare Director Comr. Anieke George (who organized the meeting) said that food with a sachet of water is N150 at college of Health Technology; University of Uyo equally sold it at N100. He equally made it clear that “all we want is that food should be sold at N150 in Unical”. He further said that something will definitely happen should you (the vendors) fail to comply. He said that the rate at which things are sold outside cannot be the same with what is being sold inside campus, thus, stressing that inside hostel ought to be cheaper as the rent is cheaper than outside.
To buttress the meanness of his committee in making people to comply, he brought out the “sealed paper” which his committee has printed and is ready to seal any shop that did comply. He cited other instance of what he referred to as wickedness where thing on sold higher in the hostel than outside.
He equally read out the new prices of goods to include; barbing N50 as against N100, shaving N30 against N30, browsing N100 for 1hr as against N150, food with pure water N150 as againt N200, Coca-Cola N50 as againt N60, passport photograph N250 as against N400 among others. His memo also bear that “other things not captured here must have 10% decrease from what is obtainable outside (constant check will be conducted to ensure compliance)”
The Welfare equally threatened that any shop that is lock will take nothing less than 2 months to be re-opened “and you know that students may be afraid patronizing you subsequently” he added. He also said that items that has no static price will equally be considered better as there will often be press release to increase or decrease prices of such goods like Garri, Kerosene, Beans etc.
In response, four persons among the vendors were allowed to speak on behalf of others that sold difference species of goods. Anieka Jona speaking on behalf of mineral and snacks seller said that “it’s very unfortunate that I can’t sale up to I create of mineral unlike before. Girls now buy fridges and sale drinks inside the hostels and it’s a very big challenge for us”. In response the Welfare Dir. charged the vendors to help in apprehending such girls, hence hostels accommodation is not for business “just get us the room numbers” he fumed.
One who simply identify himself as Ugo, the owner of the most popular eatery on campus called Yugobite speaking for food vendor said that in a democratic dispensation like ours, it could have been better if the committee started with negotiating with the vendors before launching into the price reduction in form of imposing on the vendors.
Ugo equally noted that the price reduction will likely not affect the quality of his food but will definitely affect the quantity of the food which may invariably result to student still eating food of up to N200. Responding, once more, Aniekeme said that food at College of Health Technology which is not more than 20 poles from here is N150 a plate, “please go find out where the buy their good stuff and buy too”.
Godwin Udofia speaking for barbers said that 50 for barber was fixed for barbers since 2008. He complained that price of everything including their rent has equally increase. To worsen it all, since the mayhem of fuel subsidy removal has added to their tragedy.
Responding to this, Mr. Dominick told the barbers that light is free for all in the hostels unlike outside. The welfare equally noted that if there are any people that should complain, it shouldn’t be the barbers; he noted that generators are not often used during barbing as students are rarely in the hostel in the afternoon when electricity light is not guaranteed.
The welfare added that some vendors were randomly picked for this negotiation before it was concluded for all because “we know that calling all the business operators for meeting to negotiate price may take days without resolution.
Speaking about sanitation, Mrs. Umaha Augustina opined that the most important thing in Malabor is sanitation which many vendors do not consider necessary again. She said that the hostels are becoming dirtier because most persons are interested in selling and making gains, she cited the instances of many clean-up that has been done which most of her colleague treated with laxity, she suggested that serious measure should be taken to make people’s environment worthwhile.
In responding, the welfare said that “we have noted that vendors do not participate as required in sanitations. Therefore, any person that misses sanitation must pay for it”.
Lastly, the Task force chairman informed all that the “Malabor ultramodern Market” (which is the initiative of 2009/2010 administration of SUG) has been approved for people to continue their work. “Therefore if any person has a shop there, let the person continue and root his/her shop”. The building of this market was abandoned after last year’s riot, as the shops were built by the owners who originally owe most of the shops that were labeled illegal structure by the authority.
A cross section of business operators that were interviewed has vowed to resist any imposition of prices of goods without first seeking their consent. One who spoke in confidence even added “how do they expect to reduce our goods prices after increasing the shops rentage by 50%? Who and who did they meet to ascertain at least the price we buy and what we suppose to sell, if they want us to reduce goods prices let them start from reducing the shops rentage and then call us meeting to get our own input”. Another who also spoke on condition of anonymity asserts that “The Director of Welfare is confused to have summon courage to call us just to tell us about his price imposition, when he is ready to reduce the prices we will know”
On the part of the student, there is serious confusion as the SUG Welfare has pasted round the hostels prices of goods while the vendors continue in their usual prices. The confusion is heightened as the Director of Welfare dodged a media parley organized by Unical Branch of Nigeria Union of Campus Journalists; the media parley was organized for the students to hear from the SUG Executives to interact with the students on what is really happening on campus. In the media parley, many questions were posted to the Director of Welfare about the mirage of price reduction, but the Welfare who was around the venue dodged coming to answer the questions.
Many accusing finger is pointing at the SUG appoint their consciousness in what enters their pocket, but students’ well being can stay mute. A Parliamentarian (Hon Kingsley Obi) who spoke with our crew has this to say “The Executives need proper orientation in the sense that coming to government is not coming to make money. That is to say that they lack what we call POSDCORB in public Administration, because they lack this leadership qualities, that is why they are handling this administration as money making administration…”